Previenent Grace Along the Highway

2013-04-15 10.32.25We’re staying at a rural RV park for a few weeks and it’s been a bit challenging for me to find a good place to walk.  For years now I’ve combined a walk with my prayer time so it’s an important part of my day, both spiritually and physically.  There is no city park (or better said, no city, period) so I’ve been walking along the highway.  Again, not the best place.  There’s considerable traffic, most of it flying along at 70 mph or more.  The only redeeming factor is that the shoulders of Texas highways are wide so I can keep at least a bit of distance between me and the traffic.  Still, it’s not a very good solution and I’ll be glad when I’m in more pleasant surroundings for my daily prayer-walk.

The other day as I walked I was startled when a vehicle pulled up beside of me.  It was a county deputy.  He wanted to know if I was okay or needed a ride.  I assured him that I was okay and thanked him for asking.  In retrospect, I think he was doing more than being a friendly policeman.  He was probably checking me out.  The county jail is about three miles down the road.  Either way, his checking on me was more part of his job than his being a Good Samaritan.

Today, as I walked toward the traffic an older black pickup passed by.  He was on the opposite side of the road headed north and, like everyone else, not letting any grass grow under his wheels.  However, as he passed me his brake lights came on.  He pulled off to the shoulder about a quarter mile past me, turned around, and drove back to me.

A man and a woman were in the pickup.  They had multiple tattoos and piercings.  He had a couple on his face on either side of his chin.  He rolled the window down and said, “Are you okay?  Do you need a ride?”

I assured him that I was fine, just getting a walk.  “Are you sure?” he asked.  I said thanks for asking and added, “You’re a good guy, I really appreciate your checking on me.”

With that he did another u-turn and was off again.

I began thinking about his stopping and offering me a ride – not just stopping, but making the effort to turn around and come back to check on me.

He and his rider didn’t look like “my kind of people.”  No tattoos here.  No piercings either.  But he was concerned about this white haired guy walking down a busy highway.

John Wesley talked about “prevenient grace.”   You might think of it as the evidence that we’re created in the image of God.  In our fallen state we don’t reflect that image very well, but it’s still there.  It’s what causes people to want to show kindness to strangers.

I saw it in action out along the highway today.

Funeral for a baby that didn’t make it to birth

I just finished doing a funeral for a baby that was lost about 4 months to birth. He weighed about 9 oz. Those who held him all commented that he was a beautiful, tiny, human being. Such a tiny casket — just a bit larger than a shoe box.

My grave side service took me into new territory.

I read the O.T. scriptures that speak of how God “knew me in the womb.”

I then talked about the funeral I did for the same family last year. It was for the patriarch of their family. A good man who was over 100 years of age. I remarked that there couldn’t be two more opposite situations.

Then I began to talk to them about the grace of God.

First, I described “transformational grace.” That was very clear in the previous funeral. The man had lived for God longer than any of us had been alive and God had done many wonderful things in his life.

Then, I described “prevenient grace.” I told them that this is “the grace that goes before.” Normally, we talk about prevenient grace in terms of enabling human beings to be able to respond to God — the Almighty at work in lives even before we ever think of him.

In this case, though, we see prevenient grace in its most simple form. The scriptures I read told of God’s knowledge of the unborn child before that child can ever recognize God or respond to him. I remarked that this life resembled a sheet of paper, totally blank except for three letters in the middle of the sheet — “G O D.”

It is because of prevenient grace that we believe that child is now in the care of God.

Finally, I talked to them about how God’s prevenient grace was at work in their lives too, but that they had to respond to that grace by allowing God to transform their lives — that without our cooperation, God cannot do anything to change us.

I came away from that little grave side service with a strong sense of having been helped by God to minister in a difficult situation. I have just written these things in an effort to “decompress” a bit. Thanks for reading.